Barring some political miracle, National Health Care is dead. Many current polls indicate that a majority of the public is now against it. There is no chance of having a vote in either chamber of Congress before the August recess. Considering the high popularity numbers that Obama had coming into office, and the wide majorities that the Democrats enjoy in Congress this is astounding. What caused this debacle? A few thoughts.
1. Complexity-The chart at the top of this post was devised by Rep. Ken Brady (R. Tex) to illustrate the complexity of National Health Care as proposed by House Democrats. The Democrats are so alarmed by this chart that they have attempted to block it being sent out by franked mail on the grounds that it is inaccurate. How would they know? The House version of the National Health Care bill is over a thousand pages in length. Rep. John Conyers (D.Mich), doesn’t think it makes any sense for members to read the bill unless they have two attorneys to explain it to them and two days for the explanation. This makes it a hard sell to the American people when our CongressCritters do not have a grasp of the proposed legislation. As an attorney I would say that with a 1000 page piece of legislation it would take a few years of implementation before anyone could be certain how such a leviathan would work. If you are going to make big changes in something as important as health care, and you wish to get a majority of voters to agree to the change, you have to observe the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid!).
2. Lack of bi-partisanship-By and large the President has not sought Republican votes assuming he can ram this through with his Democrat majorities. Rubbish. Enough Democrats have qualms about this radical change in health care, that they will not sign on unless a fair number of Republicans vote for it. Additionally the Republicans represent a broad portion of the population. This type of transformation of the health care system simply will not pass unless opinion polls reflect broad popular support for it. From the start, the President wrote off over 40% of the population as having no input into National Health Care. Not smart, not smart at all.
3. Too much government control-As the 1018 pages of the National Health Care bill indicate, the federal government would be placed in control of health care. This simply scares a majority of the voters.
4. Abortion-Blue Dog Democrats have made it clear that they will not support the legislation if abortions are funded. Rest assured that many more Democrats will not vote for the legislation if abortions are not funded. A good overview of the conflict is here. This is definitely a bill killer and I see no solution for the proponents of GovMed.
5. Lack of coordination between the House, the Senate and the White House-From day one the Democrats should have been singing from the same hymn book. Instead the House, the Senate and the White House might as well be in the hands of three different parties for all the unity they have shown in this matter. This is not to say that this is not the way business is usually done in Washington, but they knew going in from the failure of ClintonCare in 93 the obstacles and risks they were facing, and they had all winter after the election to develop a common bill and a common strategy. This was not done.
6. The Blue Dogs-Dr. Samuel Johnson had a saying that I have always been fond of: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it clarifies his mind wonderfully.” Elections have the same impact on politicians. Lots of Democrats were elected in 2006 and 2008 in Republican leaning districts. As the polls collapse on ObamaCare, you can bet that those Blue Dogs are going to think a very long time about casting a vote which might cost them their seat in November of next year.
7. Most people are happy with their health care-At least that is what current polls say. If the government can come along with a cheap, easy way to cover more people, I think a majority of Americans would probably be in favor of it. However, the current proposal is neither cheap nor easy, hence the growing opposition to it in the polls.
8. The numbers simply do not add up-As Keith Hennessey, hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, devastatingly demonstrates here, the House bill increases the deficit by at least $239,000,000,000 over the next ten years. This estimate is based on Congressional Budget Office numbers and is not his mere conjecture. The American people are in no mood to keep adding yet more debt to the already astronomical figures incurred this year.
9. Too many balls in the air-Obama is simply attempting to do too much too quickly. The Stimulus Bill (The National Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009), cap and trade, and myriads of other controversial policy initiatives diffuses the type of intensity needed from proponents to get National Health Care through.
10. Media not adversarial enough-The woes of a sycophantic media. If Obama had been blessed with the type of scrutiny that Republicans routinely receive, many of the problems with National Health Care would have been exposed at an early stage. Obama could then have decided to mend them, or perhaps drop the proposal entirely if the opposition was too intense. Instead, a largely cheerleading media lulled him into a dangerous false sense of security as to this, his most important domestic initiative. All presidents dream of the lapdog press that Obama has enjoyed, but sometimes it is better for a president to have a pitbull press challenging him at every term.
Update II: The NBC News\Wall Street Journal poll joins the chorus of the polls showing more Americans opposing National Health Care than favoring it.